BOW Ocala Florida March 12-14 2010
I have attended many BOW events and have recently had the opportunity at organizing some Beyond BOW events here in Florida. This past weekend though I had my first chance to attend as a volunteer instructor. I was assigned classes on the shooting range and in the Intro to Wilderness First Aid class. I was not prepared for what I would take away from this opportunity.
I was originally just going to teach a “Leave No Trace” workshop on Friday evening but told Lynn, the regional coordinator, to feel free to put me to work for the rest of the weekend since I was driving up there anywhere.
I drove through horrible storms to get to Ocala but on arrival most had passed and soon I was setting up my tent and getting ready for dinner. Thursday evening I was able to get to know some of the instructors that previously I had only know as an attendee. They freely discussed with me why they teach and volunteer for this wonderful program and the over all message was that “they wanted to give back”. Instructors come from all over the state and beyond, as do the attendees.
Friday morning started early getting prepped for classes and attending a instructor meeting. These is a lot more preparation for this weekend that I would ever have thought. Everyone works so hard in advance to make sure everything goes smoothly! We were expecting just over 100 ladies and we knew day 1 would be rainy…but that did not dampen our spirits!
It was not much later that many started arriving and soon we were off to our first class. I was honored to be able to work with long time black powder/muzzle-loading instructor Warren. He was very informative and he explained the firearms that we would be teaching with that day. All were 1870 era replica models used during Cutlers last stand.
It was wonderful watching each of the new girls come up and discover the history of these guns and to give them a try. Some were apprehensive, though after a bit of tutoring, but most were all good shots!
Friday night we all had a wonderful dinner!!! Food at BOW is fantastic! After that and a nice presentation by Eddie on Wildlife Restoration and another on the Peace River Refuge we all went off to other evening activities. I taught a class of 5 the principles of Leave No Trace and then it was time to do s’mores at the campfire with Zanne (another first time volunteer instructor). By 11 pm I was pooped and had another log day on the range Saturday.
Weather was beautiful on Saturday and the girls were all excited to get to class. I spent the day on the range with Warren, long guns in the am and pistols in the afternoon. In between I completed my CPR and Wilderness First Aid Skills testing (another unexpected perk for the weekend). Another great meal Saturday night with pecan pie and ice cream for dessert – YUM, was followed by a very entertaining fashion show by the High Maintenance Camo girls. Many volunteered to be in the fashion show and the finale was one I will never forget! All the girls took home wonderful finds from the silent auction to. I ended my evening with a no light night hike lead by volunteer biologist and birder Eddie. There was no moonlight but we lost no one in the woods and had a great time. Many of the girls headed to the campfire afterwards to enjoy some of John’s storytelling, but I was dead tired and I believe I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow!
Sunday morning came quickly and soon I was off to the church service. What fun we had singing all the old VBS songs and playing percussion instruments from around the world! After another filling breakfast I was off to assist Anne with my final class of the day. I learned so much just helping her! Lunch was full of girls thanking us for working with them and encouraging them over the past few days. Many exchanged contact information and could not wait to get back together to more of what they learned over the weekend.
I have to say this was the most rewarding weekend of my life. The genuine thanks and appreciation received from those I met will stay with me for a lifetime. I have made friendships that I know will be long lasting and will only develop over time. The final instructor meeting I was invited back to teach again – I can’t wait! I encourage all you ladies out there to check out www.myfwc.com/bow and register for a BOW event. Keep an eye out on my calendar for future events with the Beyond BOW program as well.
I hope to see all of you again soon!